WOMEX, or the World Music Expo, is an annual trade event that brings together some of the most interesting and important members of the world music community. Spread across four days, the typical WOMEX schedule includes conference panels along with mentoring sessions during the day and musical showcases across multiple stages through the night.
This year, WOMEX took place in the quiet Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela and Artistik License had the opportunity to attend, with our founder providing a mentorship session. Playing host for the second time, the town’s iconic cultural centre, Cidade da Cultura was the site for the daytime conferences, mentorship rounds and ever-popular expo space. The night showcases were spread across seven stages situated in and around the most important structure of the town, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Last year, WOMEX welcomed 2500 delegates from 90 countries and this 22nd edition in 2016 saw musicians and music industry professionals from far and wide, including Estonia, Lithuania, France, South Korea, Ireland, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Uganda, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Spain and India.
WOMEX serves to educate, connect and inform the world music community of the developments taking place in the industry. Many of the artists chosen to showcase their work are often unheard of, or are musicians seeking to transform traditional music indigenous to their regions, either through cross-genre or cross-cultural collaboration.
Through its expo space, WOMEX provides a glimpse into the vast and varied world music industry, impressing upon visitors that the definition of world music can actually stretch far beyond our conventional understanding of the term. Jazz, folk music and adaptations of popular film music also find a place at the WOMEX expo.
Networking at WOMEX is of crucial significance, and a number of unexpected and productive introductions can be made through the days and nights over coffee, lunch and drinks. Artist managers, publishers, booking agents, musicians, festival curators, programmers and venue owners can be seen bustling through the crowds, exploring new music and professional opportunities.
The conference panels and mentorship sessions at WOMEX feature expert curators, musicians and industry professionals. Drawing from their professional experiences, these speakers contribute towards multiple discussions on the state of the music industry as well as the changes being ushered in courtesy of technological, political, social and cultural developments.
Trade events such as WOMEX demonstrate an often-neglected fact — when you work towards enhancing a region’s cultural market, its people and economy will subsequently prosper. By becoming a hub for international cultural exchange, the town of Santiago de Compostela came alive with multiple eateries, traditional marketplaces and special deals on travel and accommodation. Commendable are the efforts of the members of Nordesia, the local partner for WOMEX 2016 and 2014. Specializing in world music promotion, distribution and management, Nordesia plays an important role in spreading Galician music to various parts of the world.
We had a delightful experience interacting with everyone, and as legal consultants, we find that experiences such as these provide us with context and a sense of what industry professionals need. We had a wonderful time at WOMEX 2016 and eagerly await next year’s edition in Poland.